Friday, October 25, 2013

“The kind of reader you must not become . . . is the butterfly-reader, the humming-bird reader."

Ima’s brother Will (always the one to give advice) wrote to her about a list of books he had recommended for her. Too bad we don’t have her comments about Will’s list.

Probably you are correct about the biographical series—American and English men of letters. They are critical biographies, one volume to the man—so strike ’em out. Now Missey, I raise my voice in alarm—leave the American Statesmen series of biographies in the list. The clearest and most interesting road to a general knowledge of America’s Kingdom’s history goes along the lives of the men in those books. The boys will find helpful, man-making reading there.—So please leave them in. Why, James Stefinn will enjoy them.
Let me plead in your own behalf for another book in the list—Stevenson’s Letters. There’s not a more fascinating, absorbing name in latter-day letters than R.L.S. Now those letters will please and instruct you.... His works, put on the shelves of that library! Now Boswell’s Life of Johnson—is not long and will tell you of a man. Do as you like here—though, leaving the book in the list now will, when you come to read it, furnish ample cause for congratulation.
Before I close, let me admonish you to guard yourself from a habit of—reading that weakens, that does not instruct, that only serves to amuse in a time-killing way—a method of reading worse than no reading at all, almost. The kind of reader you must not become and which you will probably become is the butterfly-reader, the humming-bird-reader; the reader who tastes of everything within a binding and digests nothing; a flirt and coquette with good taste and thoroughness. I say you will probably become such because the larger number of readers I have seen are just such readers—I know you will become such unless you start now in the direction of thoroughness. . . .

Among the Ima Hogg papers is a small composition book .  In it are her notes on Hugo’s Les Miserables, Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, and J. M. Barrie’s 1896 novel, Sentimental Tommy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nurse Ima

As 1905 began, Ima went back to Austin with a convalescent Tom, for a stay in a boarding house. But she did not lack for amusement. She wrote to her father, A good deal of entertaining is going on for Austin—so I shall be going some. Last night went to a dance, this afternoon to receive at a reception and tonight. Next week there will be a good many more receptions besides the Girls’ Annual Hop. I wish we had Napoleon.
How are you getting along? Am sorry it is so we can’t be together—Tom sends best love to you and to brothers when you see him—as I do with XXXXXXX kisses.
Ever lovingly,
Ima had a fine January in Austin, but on January 26 a fateful accident took place. Jim Hogg, en route by train from Varner to Houston, was involved a collision. The passenger car in which he was riding rammed into another car, and Hogg was thrown violently to the floor. At first the injuries seemed to be only bruises, and Ima continued her socializing in Austin. She gave a “German” (a ball) on February 3, honoring her visiting San Antonio friends.
But Ima’s social whirl was halted and the family’s life took an unexpected turn two days after Ima's party. She received a telegram that her father was seriously ill in Houston. An abscess had formed at the back of his neck, and he was about to have surgery. “Of course I rushed to him,” Ima wrote later.
Several surgeries weakened Jim Hogg’s already strained heart, and he was critically ill and bedridden for two months in the spring of 1905.

Ima became his devoted nurse.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Father took charge."

In September 1904, Ima, ever the good big sister, settled Mike and Tom once again at the Lawrenceville school in New Jersey. Perhaps because of her father’s finances (oil prices were down), Ima, ever the good daughter, did not resume her music studies in New York, but returned to Texas.
After a summer dutifully supervising Tom and Mike in Massachusetts, she was now happily socializing in Houston,  Austin, and San Antonio. In Houston on November 23, Thanksgiving Eve, she attended the traditional festive ball honoring "King Nottoc" [King Cotton] and his queen. In early December she visited her friend Nellie Paschal in San Antonio and returned to Houston on December 15. The San Antonio Light reported that Ima was planning a "house party at 'Columbia,' commencing on the 22nd."
But the Christmas house party at Varner did not take place.
By December, Mike and Tom were eager to come to Texas for Christmas. They had not spent Christmas at home since 1902. Tom wrote a gloomy letter to Ima:

My dear Sister:—
Yours was received yesterday.
It is very cold up here and there is some snow on the ground.
For about three or four weeks, I have had a very bad cold and still have it as bad as ever.
This fooling doctor up here could not cure a bruised finger. . . .
As you would naturly expect, I want to come home Xmas.

As the December days passed, Tom’s “very bad cold” turned into pneumonia, and Ima and her father rushed to Tom’s bedside. There, as Ima wrote later, “Father took charge with the nurse to follow orders. This treatment was the same as he used when mother had pneumonia each winter. . . . Hot poultices were constantly applied to chest back and sides. All parts were greased with lard & to prevent burning, poultices were made of cornmeal saturated with kerosene and turpentine put in soft cotton bags. He sat up all night doing the work, giving orders to the assistant nurse.”

That was how Christmas 1904 came and went.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"My pedestal lady...."

Ima had a longer-lasting romantic relationship was with a young Austin attorney named Wilbur P. Allen. The two had known each other since their days at the University of Texas, when they had long talks in the moonlight, sitting on the steps of St. Mary’s Seminary (they were UT students, but St. Mary’s had nice steps). By 1904 Wilbur Allen had a law office at 806 Congress Avenue, in the same building as Hogg, Robertson & Hogg, the law firm of Ima’s father and brother.
Allen had been wooing Ima since 1902. He had wanted to take her to the University of Texas Commencement Ball in 1903. He had visited her in New York and complained that she gave him “about ten minutes of interrupted talk for my two thousand miles.” Ima apparently kept him at a distance, and he called her “my dear, incorrigible, impossible friend.” He called her “my pedestal lady,” and wrote, “I want to see you Miss Ima—I’ve got to see you—. I want to know if I may come to see you then wherever you are.”

         What was Ima’s answer? We don’t know. But these two kept in touch.